Judge Vasquez served for two decades on the Sacramento County Superior Court, including two years on its appellate panel, presiding over hundreds of civil and complex civil litigation matters, including PAGA & class actions, law and motion, and settlement conferences resolving disputes in a variety of civil matters, ranging from commercial contract disputes to labor and employment, personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and sexual assault cases. During her tenure on the Court, she issued decisions on hundreds of cases involving a wide range of constitutional, statutory, and other legal questions, including presiding over close to 400 jury trials in civil and criminal law.

Prior to her judicial appointment, she was a shareholder in a prominent law firm in Sacramento, where she specialized in labor and employment litigation, including class action lawsuits, in state and federal court at both the trial and appellate levels. She practiced law for 24 years, providing a broad range of civil law litigation experience involving commercial disputes, education law, professional malpractice, personal injury, housing law, real property, and labor & employment. Judge Vasquez is available to serve as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, and early neutral case evaluator.

Judge Vasquez’s dedication to the judiciary, the legal profession, and the community is demonstrated by a lifetime of accomplishments and activities. She has been the recipient of numerous prestigious honors and awards for her professional excellence and community service. Notably, she was honored by the American Board of Trial Advocates (“ABOTA”) with the “Judge of the Year Award” 2022) for her “integrity, fairness and professionalism during her tenure on the Sacramento County Superior Court.” In 2019, Judge Vasquez was recognized as “Judge of the Year” by the Sacramento County Bar Association for her “stellar legal abilities, calm judicial demeanor, and commitment to the fair and equitable administration of the courts.”

A top litigator stated, “Judge Vasquez is one of the most sincere and diligent judges I have been before. She really cares about the litigants and jurors. She always demonstrates kindness and has a great work ethic.”

Practice Areas
  • All Types of Employment Matters including Class Actions and PAGA
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Business/Contractual
  • Civil Rights
  • Education Law
  • Government/Public Agency
  • Lemon Law
  • Medical Negligence
  • Personal Injury including Sexual Assault/Wrongful Death
  • Professional Malpractice
Hobbies & Interests

Judge Vasquez is fluent in Spanish (speaking and writing). She is passionate about learning as much as she can about communities and people all over the world, having spent her junior year in college attending the University of Madrid in Spain. Aside from enjoying travel in her spare time, she also enjoys hiking, reading, and public service. She continues to assist the local law schools, colleges, high schools, and bar associations as a guest lecturer on a myriad of subjects. She is a leader in the community dedicating her time to several charitable organizations, and she is President of the Board of Directors of the Health Education Council, which provides health education to at-risk adults and children.

Legal Career
  • Neutral, Judicate West (2022-Present)
  • Judge, Sacramento Superior Court; Presided over a general trial department, including criminal and civil jury trials, bench trials and preliminary hearings, and complex civil litigation. She decided hundreds of cases involving a wide range of constitutional, statutory, and other legal questions. She also updated the Sacramento Superior Court’s “Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation, and Inappropriate Workplace Conduct Prevention, Complaint Resolution Policy” currently in effect today for the Court. (2001-2022)
  • California Supreme Court State Bar Trustees Nomination Committee, Chairperson (2017-2022)
  • Shareholder, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard; Emphasis in matters related to labor, employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, drug testing, education law, and personnel policy issues. Litigation was in federal and state courts (both trial and appellate levels) and before administrative agencies. Litigation included the representation of clients in individual and class action cases. (1993-2001)
  • Assistant Public Defender, Office of the Public Defender, Sacramento County (1985-1993)
  • Director and Chairwoman of the Sacramento Regional Transit Board of Directors, appointed by the Mayor of Sacramento; During her tenure, the public transit agency built, completed, and opened a highly successful light rail system in Sacramento County (1984-1992)
  • Appellate Attorney, General Counsel’s office, Public Employment Relations Board (1983-1985)
  • Commission Counsel, Fair Employment and Housing Commission (1981-1983)
  • Staff Attorney, California Rural Legal Assistance; General civil practice with an emphasis on education law, landlord-tenant law, debt collection defense, automobile injury, governmental benefit programs, and employment issues (1977-1981)
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine/Caruso School of Law, Mediating the Litigated Case: The Art of Facilitating Settlement (October 2022)
  • J.D. University of California, Berkeley School of Law (1977)
  • B.A University of California, Davis; Regents Scholar (1970-1974)
  • California Judicial Council: Court Technology Advisory Committee (2002-2015); Co-Chair of the Outreach Subcommittee
  • CJER Faculty Member; Providing ethics, labor and employment law, and e-business training to judges throughout California (2005-2012)
  • National Association of Women Judges, Lifetime Member
  • American Judges Association, Member (2008-Present)
  • Federal Bar Association, Member (2010-Present)
  • California Judges Association, Member (2001-Present)
  • California Latino Judges Association, Member (2001-Present)
  • California Women Lawyers, Member (2002-Present)
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Member (1981-Present)
  • Cruz Reynoso Bar Association of Sacramento (Formerly La Raza Lawyers Association); Member (1981- Present)
  • Women Lawyers of Sacramento, Member (1981-Present)
  • Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association, Member (2009-2022)
  • American Inns of Court (Schwartz/Levi Chapter; President 2015-2018); Member of Executive Committee and “Mentor” to law students (2002-Present)
  • Berkeley Law Alumni Association (1977-Present)
  • U.C. Davis Alumni Association, Lifetime Member
Achievements & Awards
  • Legacy Estrella Award, Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (2023)
  • Ohtli Award, Presented by the Government of Mexico (2022)
  • Judge of the Year Award, American Board of Trial Advocates – ABOTA (2022)
  • Defensora de Justicia Award, Cruz Reynoso Bar Association (2022)
  • Inaugural Judge Emily E. Vasquez Community Service Award, Schwartz/Levi Inn of Court and U.C Davis School of Law (2022)
  • Published article in Sacramento Lawyer Magazine, ‘Remembering Justice Cruz Reynoso’ (2021)
  • Published article in Sacramento Lawyer Magazine, ‘Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’ (2020)
  • Judge of the Year Award, Sacramento County Bar Association (2019)
  • Recognition by the California Senate for leadership, integrity, and service to the cause of justice for all (2019)
  • Joe Serna, Jr., Lifetime of Community Service Award (2019)
  • Honorary Degree of Juris Doctor from Lincoln Law School, Sacramento (2013)
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association (2012)
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Health Education Council (2011)
  • Women Who Mean Business Award, Sacramento Business Journal (2008)
  • Rose Bird Memorial Award, California Women Lawyers (2008)
  • Outstanding Latina of the Year, Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (2008)
  • Frances Newell Carr Achievement Award, Women Lawyers of Sacramento (2006)
  • Humanitarian of the Year Award, Sacramento County Bar Association (2001)
  • Authored “Advancing Access to Justice through Technology: Guiding Principles for California Judicial Branch Initiatives” which is still in effect today in CA’s judicial branch and used as a model nationwide
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. Emily E. Vasquez, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.


• Breach of contract involving wireless communication facilities

• Breach of contract involving the development of tanning equipment

• Breach of a Health Services Contract for indigent care reimbursement

As a judge of the Superior Court, she presided over dozens of business contract disputes in jury trials and bench trials. An example of the many cases that she handled in this area is the following matter requesting declaratory relief:

• Bench Trial, 2018 - This was a trial for declaratory relief on a business contract (Wireless Marketing Agreement) entered into by the parties. Briefly, the facts were that the Defendant desired to engage Plaintiff to provide wireless consulting, management, and development services related to the use of Defendant’s assets for the purpose of planning and implementing a marketing plan for Wireless Telecommunications Facilities as that term was defined in the contract. Further, both parties agreed that the Defendant desired that the Plaintiff proactively market Defendant-owned underutilized assets on terms that maximized revenue and minimized planning impacts and visual blight.

The core question presented by the parties’ dispute was whether under the Contract: 1.) Plaintiff had the sole and exclusive right to market, license and sublicense all located Defendant Assets to the exclusion of all others during the term; or 2.) Plaintiff had the sole and exclusive right to market, license and/or sublicense only Defendant Assets on the Asset List, and Defendant Assets not the Asset List may be marketed, licensed or sublicensed by the Defendant and any other third party designated by the Defendant. Judge Vasquez held that Plaintiff had the sole and exclusive right to market, license and sublicense all located Defendant Assets to the exclusion of all others during the Contract Term.


• Excessive force, severe injuries, and unlawful police practices

• Student Rights


As a judicial officer, Judge Vasquez presented a refresher-training seminar to the judges on the Superior Court (Sacramento County) on Pitchess motions due to several decisions rendered by the Third District Court of Appeal. These discovery motions seek access to confidential documents located in a peace officer’s personnel file and they can be filed in both civil and criminal cases. She presented two workshops on “Best Practices in Pitchess Motions.” She also created the outline for the program and the valuable PowerPoint used during the presentation. Her power point presentation was requested by an appellate justice on the Third District Court of Appeal and other trial judges serving in other counties.


• Probationary Employees

• Lay-offs of Certificated and Classified Personnel

• Student Rights

• Terminations

• Student Suspensions and Expulsions


•Age Discrimination, Retaliation

• Covid-related challenges based on protocol, layoff, and terminations

• Disability Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate, Retaliation

• Drug Testing in the Workplace

• Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

• FEHA & Title VII Class Actions

• Lay-offs through Federal and California WARN Laws

• Lay-offs through California Education Code


• Personnel Policies

• Racial Discrimination, Retaliation

• Sex Discrimination

• Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, Retaliation

• Whistleblower, Retaliation, Wrongful Termination

• Wage and Hour Class Actions, Complex Civil Litigation

• Wrongful Termination, Defamation, Retaliation

As a judge of the Superior Court, she adjudicated dozens of employment cases, including sexual harassment, hostile work environment, wrongful termination, and ADA failure to accommodate under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Judge Vasquez was a faculty member of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), providing ethics, labor and employment law, and e-business training to judges throughout California.

• Jury Trial 2019 - Plaintiff filed a sexual harassment and other causes of action lawsuit against her employer and her alleged harasser. The issues and motions filed by the parties were numerous because the harassment was alleged to have occurred over a ten-year period. The Employer contended that Plaintiff was barred by the statute of limitations and Employer was never informed by Plaintiff of the alleged sexual harassment. The case presented heavily factually and legally laden issues, e.g.:

-Whether Plaintiff could present “me too” evidence on the issue of notice and knowledge to Defendant Employer.

-Whether Plaintiffs action was barred due to the statute of limitations.

-Whether the “continuing violation doctrine” was applicable to Plaintiff’s claims.

-Whether Plaintiff could testify about Employer’s alleged retaliation, even though, the Court had summarily dismissed that cause of action from her lawsuit in a motion for summary adjudication brought by the defendant.

-Whether Plaintiff could provide testimony as to her “lay opinion” about the feelings, fears and perceptions of other female employees.

-Whether co-defendant alleged sexual harassment of other female employees should be excluded due to inadmissible character evidence, hearsay, speculative or lacking foundation.

-Whether the Plaintiff could present evidence on failure to correct by Employer.

• A representative jury trial that Judge Vasquez presided over was in the area of failure to accommodate a physical disability in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) as follows:

• Jury Trial 2018 - Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Employer had failed to reasonably accommodate her physical disability in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov’t Code section 12940 et seq) and the City’s own internal policies. Specifically, the Plaintiff asserted the following causes of action against the Employer under FEHA for: 1.) unlawful discrimination based on disability; 2) failure to prevent unlawful discrimination; 3) retaliation; 4) failure to accommodate disability; and 5) failure to engage in the interactive process. The Employer denied all allegations and ultimately obtained a verdict for the defense from the jury. The case was appealed by the Plaintiff on several grounds, notably on the issue of insufficient evident to support the jury’s verdict. The Court of Appeal affirmed the jury trial’s verdict and the trial judge’s judgment in its entirety.

• As a judicial officer, Judge Vasquez adjudicated over a dozen cases where parties requested restraining orders due to harassing behavior by disgruntled employees, ex-spouses, disgruntled customers, etc.

• As a lawyer, during her 24 -year legal career, she handled dozens of labor and employment cases. She represented both management and labor, plaintiffs and defendants, government agencies and private businesses. Her experience included handling both individual and class action cases in state and federal courts (trial and appellate levels). As a shareholder for her former law firm, she specialized in labor and employment litigation on behalf of public and private sector employers.

• As a lawyer, she represented private employers and public agencies before state and federal courts and administrative agencies, e.g., the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as the U.S. Office of Education, the Office of Civil Rights and the California Labor Commissioner. She had an excellent record of resolving difficult discrimination lawsuits before trial, by winning motions for summary judgment and, when necessary, resolving lawsuits for amounts deemed very reasonable by her clients. She also provided preventative legal guidance to her clients in order to avert litigation. One of her clients at the time was the California State Assembly.

• As a practicing lawyer, she represented management in several disciplinary hearings against employees before the California Personnel Board and before arbitrators pursuant to collective bargaining agreements in effect in particular cases.

• As a practicing lawyer, she represented management in several disciplinary hearings against employees before the California Personnel Board and before arbitrators pursuant to collective bargaining agreements in effect in particular cases.

• Judge Vasquez handled dozens of Wage & Hour and PAGA cases and class action lawsuits as the judge assigned to handle case management of complex civil litigation for the Court. Most of these cases settled and, in those cases, Judge Vasquez would review the settlement agreement to determine whether the settlement was “fair, adequate and reasonable” for the class members. (See Wershba v. Apple Computer (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 224, 244, 245.) She handled several pre-trial motions, e.g., discovery motions, class action certification, and motions for summary judgment.


• Pricing dispute for medically uninsured patients

• Complex case involving indigent medical care reimbursement


• Breach of insurance policy agreement; indemnity

• Insurance Coverage

• Insurance Subrogation

• Insurance Bad Faith


From 1983 to 1985, Judge Vasquez worked as an appellate attorney in the General Counsel’s Office of the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). Her experience with the PERB consisted of writing appellate briefs and presenting appellate argument in defense of final Board unfair labor practice decisions when aggrieved parties sought review in the appellate courts. Further, she sought and obtained injunctive relief on behalf of the Board against alleged unfair labor practices in the workplace. Lastly, she handled some difficult and novel cases such as a school district’s bankruptcy case wherein the school district sought to enjoin PERB’s adjudication of the alleged unfair labor practice charges. PERB was successful and the Board was able to process the charge.

•As a partner for her prior law firm, she represented management in many arbitration hearings for breach of the collective bargaining agreement in those particular cases.


• Automobile, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act; Consumer Legal Remedies Act (Lemon Law)


• Assault and Battery

• Catastrophic injury, auto and otherwise

• Child Abuse and Sexual Assault

• Dangerous Condition of public property

• Elder Abuse (Financial and Physical, including wrongful death)

• Legal malpractice

• Medical Malpractice

• Negligence

• Personal Injury, including premises liability

• Personal Injury Auto, UM and UIM

• Lumbar spinal injury

As a judicial officer, Judge Vasquez adjudicated dozens of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, medical malpractice, and slip-and-fall cases. An example of the many personal injury cases that she presided over is the following slip & fall case:

• Jury Trial - Plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging that Defendant was liable for her injuries suffered as a result of a slip & fall on defendant’s property. She alleged that she received no warning or indication of the wet surface and that the Defendant’s witnesses contradicted one another. Defendant disputed all allegations and presented witness testimony that it had placed two cones to warn customers of the wet floor, and that at the time of the accident, Plaintiff denied being hurt and quickly left the store. The jury rendered a verdict for the Defendant.

• Multi-car accident jury trial cases involving serious injuries with several cross complaints by the defendants against the Plaintiff and against co-defendants.


• Commercial and Residential Property Unlawful Detainer Actions

As a judicial officer, Judge Vasquez handled dozens of bench and jury trials in the area of landlord/tenant unlawful detainers. She has a published opinion in this area of the law from her days as a practicing attorney: Cazares v. Ortiz (1980) 109 Cal. App.3d Supp. 23, involving the issue of how damages should be computed for breach of the implied warranty of habitability. In this case, the Appellate Department of the Superior Court held that damages should be computed for breach of the implied warranty of habitability by recognizing the agreed contract rent as proper for the premises as impliedly warranted and reducing the agreed rent by the percentage reduction of habitability and then multiplying the difference by the number of months of occupancy.

Judge Vasquez is an extremely thorough Judge. She has a wonderful judicial temperament and treats counsel, clients, and jurors with the utmost respect.
- Top Civil Litigator
Judge Vasquez did a great job on a case in which we thought settling at this stage was unlikely.
- Attorney on a Probate Matters Case
Judge Vazquez was crucial to the resolution of this matter. We are grateful for her knowledge and experience.
- Trial Attorney at a Prestigious Law Firm
Hon. Emily E. Vasquez, Ret.
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Case Manager: Rebecca Hoefer